SOUTH CONGAREE, SC (WACH) -- In the wake of state and federal investigations, three town leaders resigned Thursday night.
"When you are against a state-level politician that I will say is picking on the town, it finally becomes over-bearing," said Mayor Jerry McCormick, after announcing his resignation in a town council meeting Thursday night. "You just have to look at what can get done. I looked at this very seriously and determined that I could no longer be effective."
McCormick started the public meeting by announcing that Town Administrator Melisha Shumpert had resigned, effective immediately. She had originally planned to resign June 11. Shumpert was put on paid leave when the FBI and state law enforcement officials raided town hall.
The meeting Thursday then went into a brief executive session, after which McCormick announced he and Councilman Richard Green were also resigning, effective immediately.
McCormick says his resignation has to do with unfair treatment by a state politician. He would not say who that politician is, but he did say she has been a thorn in the side of town administration for no good reason, most recently with SLED and FBI investigations of the town starting in early May.
"What we've been going [through] for the past three weeks with no information -- our complete administration was wiped out, and we had to do what we could, but we did," said McCormick.
Town members who attended the meeting were caught off guard by the resignations, but some were glad to see McCormick go.
"Hallelujah. Hallelujah," said Valerie Lever after hearing the mayor had resigned. "In our opinion with what we have seen, he has been the ring leader."
Lever says McCormick has broken promises, leading an administration that has lacked transparency and communication.
"There's been a lot of things going on," said Lever. "I think that's great. If we can get three, four, five good candidates...we can get our town back."
Former Councilman Eddie Enfinger says the town has had good leadership, but excessive pressure has caused those leaders to lose their desire to lead.
"We've had one investigation after another, and there seems to be some sort of witch hunt going on, because there's certainly not been anything found in any of the prior investigations," said Enfinger. "It puts a lot of stress on the employees."
Councilman Lila Gantt will fill McCormick's shoes as mayor pro tempore until another mayor is elected.
"I just want to say to the citizens of South Congaree, I just hope everything will be okay," said Gantt, getting emotional after the surprise resignations. "I think now we really have a chance to move our town forward."
Gantt says she was opposed to the way McCormick and some members of the town council were running things.
She says she is "not sure what is going on" with the SLED and FBI investigations of the town, but what she has been told, she won't reveal, saying she doesn't want to interfere with the current investigations.